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Climate change and cities: problem structuring methods and critical perspectives on low-carbon districts

Freeman, R; Yearworth, M; (2017) Climate change and cities: problem structuring methods and critical perspectives on low-carbon districts. Energy Research & Social Science , 25 pp. 48-64. 10.1016/j.erss.2016.11.009. Green open access

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Abstract

Cities around the world have set climate change mitigation targets, yet actions to implement these targets have so far proved inadequate. Better methodology is needed to support this impetus for action. Problem structuring methods (PSMs) enable improvements to be made in wicked problem situations; they appear to have potential to improve climate change mitigation actions but they are difficult to carry out in highly pluralist problem contexts. A case study (STEEP) that applied a PSM to support low-carbon urban energy master planning in three cities is presented. The STEEP methodology was effective in reducing the wickedness of the problem but issues of a lack of clarity on problem ownership and lack of interessement were seen. A reflective boundary critique study found that there was a mismatch between power and interest amongst key stakeholders towards the low-carbon vision. Three key issues identified in the case study were discussed through the lens of critical systems thinking: (i) the need for new competencies, (ii) dealing with wickedness, and (iii) behavioural complexity and discordant reference systems. The paper suggests how these issues might be improved through the application of non-PSM theories which can support the use of PSMs in improving city-level climate change mitigation.

Type: Article
Title: Climate change and cities: problem structuring methods and critical perspectives on low-carbon districts
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.erss.2016.11.009
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2016.11.009
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Problem structuring methods, Problematisation, Boundary critique, Climate change mitigation, Critical systems thinking
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School Env, Energy and Resources
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10064391
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